Stadler Wins Ironman Triathlon

By RON STATON
The Associated Press
Saturday, October 21, 2006; 11:28 PM

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii -- Germany's Normann Stadler won his second Ironman Triathlon title Saturday, setting a record in the bike stage and holding on in the marathon.

The 33-year-old Stadler, also the 2004 winner, finished the 140.6-mile endurance test in 8 hours, 11 minutes, 56 seconds. He completed the 112-mile bike leg in 4:18:23, more than 3 minutes better than last year's record pace.

Michellie Jones of Australia, who was second last year, won the women's race in 9:18:31. Stadler and Jones each received $110,000 for their wins.

One week after a powerful earthquake rocked Hawaii, the Ironman went off almost as if the 6.7 magnitude temblor hadn't hit. The only significant change was reducing part of the bicycle route to one lane.

Australia's Chris McCormack finished second among the men in 8:13:02. He trailed Stadler by as much as 8:28 at the 12-mile mark in the run. Defending champion Faris Al-Sultan of Germany finished third in 8:19:04.

The event opened with a 2.4-mile ocean swim amid strong swells in Kailua Bay.

Stadler said he had a "perfect" swim, so decided "let's start now," as he began the bike ride. Although winds were light during the ride, the run was very hot, he said.

Stadler said he was motivated, in part, by an interview he saw in which former champion Peter Reid said Stadler couldn't run.

"I showed I can run," said Stadler, who carried a German flag as he crossed the finish line.

Francisco Pontano of Spain was the first to finish the swim, but was closely followed by a pack that included Al-Sultan.

They were passed in the transition by former champion and course record holder Luc Van Lierde of Belgium, who was first to begin the bike ride. But Al-Sultan quickly moved to the front with Cameron Brown of New Zealand, who was second last year, close behind.

Stadler made his move to the front at the five-mile mark of the bike ride and led to the finish.

Pontano finished the swim in 53 minutes and 27 seconds, compared with the record pace of 46:41 set by Lars Jorgensen in 1998.

Women's winner Jones, asked at the finish how she felt, said, "How do you think I feel? I am an Ironman World Champion."

Linda Gallo of Mountain View, Calif., was the early women's leader, only 7 seconds behind Pontano in the swim. But Jones had a lead of more than two minutes at the end of the bicycle ride and opened the gap in the run.

Desiree Ficker of Austin, Tex., was second in 9:24:02, followed by Lisa Bentley of Canada in 9:25:18.

The race drew most of the sport's top professionals, including four of the top five men from last year, and all five of the top women. The pros were vying for $580,000 in prize money and bonuses.

The field also included about 1,800 triathletes from all 50 states and about 50 countries, with ages ranging from 17 to 79. They started the race 15 minutes behind the pros.

The course record is 8 hours, 4 minutes and 8 seconds, set by Van Lierde in 1996. Paula Newby-Fraser of Encinitas, Calif., set the women's record of 8:55:28 in 1992.


© 2006 The Associated Press